Friday, February 5, 2016

You Got a Perty Binding

Vicar of Wakefield cover"Vellucent" binding was invented by Cedric Chivers around the turn of the 20th century. It was touted as the best thing in the book arts since paper was invented - at least by Chivers and his associates. The fad lasted for a fairly brief period.

The "vellucent" process was patented by Chivers in 1898 and boils down to two essential steps. First the artist - typically one of the women employed by Chivers in his Bath, England, bindery - would paint or draw directly onto a thin subsurface. Additional decorative materials including mother of pearl or precious metals could also be applied at this time. Once complete, the entire piece would be covered in a transparent layer of vellum and then be attached to the boards as with any other book. The vellum protected the fragile underlying decorative layer, added a "warm" tone to the work and allowed for additional gold tooling as desired.

Much like the Rubaiyat we've mentioned before, the final product was all about visual appeal. The text was secondary and only served as inspiration for the scene depicted by the artist. Is it art, is it kitsch, is is pretty? You be the judge.

Carols of Cockayne cover Imitation of Christ - back coverNature Near London cover
Garden That I Love cover Cranford coverChristmas at Bracebridge cover Cricket on the Hearth coverLa Fontaine Fables coverLa Fontaine Fables coverCranford coverEssays of Elia coverImitation of Christ coverSintram and his Companions and Undine coverOur Village coverOur Village cover

Ask for any or all of the following: Sine Illus B55hunf, Sine Illus B76cran, Sine Illus B76cric, Sine Illus B76essl, Sine Illus B76kee, Sine Illus B76ourv copy 1 & copy 2, Sine Illus B76vica, Sine Illus B766sin, Sine Illus D655nat, Sine Illus E55gar, Sine Illus H687imi, Sine Illus L443car, Sine Illus S865skeb & Sine Illus T56cran.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Spratt's Patent Cod Liver Oil Dog Cakes

Ad for Spratt's dog cakesYummy! This advertisement for Spratt's Patent Cod Liver Oil Dog Cakes appears in one of the coolest items in our extensive Stefansson polar research collection: Fridtjof Nansen's Farthest North in its 1898 serialized parts (London: George Newnes). That a book on arctic exploration could be published and sold in the manner of a popular novel says loads about how the arctic had infected the public consciousness at the time. Nansen's voyage sparked romantic visions for an English audience eager for true life adventure in an ever shrinking world.

Cover to part 1 of Nansen's Farthest North
But it is the advertisements that really get you thinking. They offer the London middle-class reader an opportunity to vicariously explore the globe's unknown reaches through the magic of consumerism. Can't go to the arctic? Well, at least you treat your dogs the same biscuits Nansen fed to his dogs! It is reminiscent of all of the kids in the 1970s who had to have Tang over actual orange juice because Tang went to the moon.

To take a look ask for Stef G700 1893 .N22.